Root canal is a dental care treatment where the dentist performs the task of cleaning the root of the tooth with specialised needles.
When do you need root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment is done to remove the decayed roots and pulp of the tooth which has been infected by the bacteria. These bacteria and the debris can cause further damage and make the tooth come loose from the roots. It can also cause damage to the neighbouring teeth by infecting them and cause the gums to swell with abscess. The abscessed tooth is very painful.
Indication pointing towards need of a root canal treatment
- Intense pain in the tooth, especially while eating
- Boils, swelling or pain in the gums
- Chips or cracks on the teeth
- Sensitivity in the tooth for hot and cold as well as sweet foods.
How does root canal treatment proceed?
The root canal treatment is carried out on the root of the tooth. The nerve and the pulp (which are now of no more use because the tooth has erupted and is mature now) are removed from the root, and the inside is cleaned with the help of needles and the cavity is then sealed with special fillings. The treatment is necessary to get the bacteria and the debris cleaned from the tooth so that bacteria does not infect the neighbouring teeth and the tooth can be saved.
Root canal treatment is done by the dentist, but if there are any complications in the root or the tooth, or any other difficult conditions must be dealt with while doing root canal, than your dentist may have to call the endodontist. The endodontist has taken the training for treating the problems of dental pulp, which is containing the dental nerve.
When your dentist sees the need for the root canal treatment, he will get an x ray done to determine the extent of damage in neighbouring teeth and the shape of the root canal.
The dentist will use local anaesthesia to numb the area surrounding the tooth. Most dentists use the anaesthesia, although the nerve is dead in any case.
A rubber sheet is placed to keep the area dry and clean of liquid, like saliva.
To remove the infected pulp and decayed nerve, an instrument is used to get to the bottom of the tooth so that the decay can be cleaned. The dentist uses a series of root canal needles to get to the root through the access tube. The needles then scrape the root canal and takes out all the debris and decay from the root. After the sides and bottom are cleaned, the dentist will sanitize the area with water and sodium hypochlorite, so that all debris can be flushed away.
The dentist will seal the tooth after cleaning it thoroughly. Some dentists wait for a few days before sealing so that antiseptic medicine can be put inside to keep the area bacteria free. It may take up to 2 days to do root canal treatment. In such a case the dentist will seal the top of the tooth with a temporary filling so that the saliva and food particles cannot not go in.
After the completion of root canal, the dentist will insert a filling which has been decided upon with your consultation. This will seal the hole that was created for cleaning purposes.
Finally, the dentist will take steps to restore the tooth. A tooth which has been through many root canal treatments may have large filling, which can cause the tooth develop cracks. In such a case the tooth has to have a cap on it so that the tooth becomes strong again and can take the pressures of chewing. The dentist will discuss whatever restoration is required with you.
What to expect after Root canal Treatment?
At the beginning of the root canal, you will have received anaesthesia. You will feel numbness in your lips and cheek for about 2 hours or so. You can resume your work immediately after the root canal. But numbness in the mouth will make you uncomfortable about eating or drinking anything.
The tissues around the root canal area get inflamed because the work done. The dentist will have prescribed medicines to deal with the discomfort which will last for a few days after the root canal.
It is advisable to avoid chewing from the tooth that has been worked upon, because the tooth is fragile now and need further protection with a crown or a cap and gets fully restored.
It is of vital importance to follow good oral hygiene habits.
The root canal treatments have very high. Once the root canal is done and the tooth is restored, it can last a lifetime.
Limitations of root canal treatment
There are a few times when after root canal treatments, complications develop.
The affected tooth sometimes develops new infections because when more than one tooth has to be treated with root canal, it gets overlooked and may not get as thorough a cleaning as required.
There can be a very minor crack at the root of the tooth which goes undetected.
Sometimes, bacteria get into the empty space that has been created for root canal work before the tooth is capped.
When the filling is larger than the space available, it creates cracks in the tooth and may get infected.
Cost of treatment
The cost depends on the severity of the problem. If your dental plan covers the endodontic treatment. When a lot of work is involved after the root canal treatment, the cost will increase. The expense will depend on what material you choose for the filling of the root canal cavity, and on what material do you choose for the crown.
Preventive measures against root canal treatment
- Regular brushing after each meal
- Regular flossing, at least once a day before going to bed
- If you have a habit of grinding the teeth in sleep, wear a mouth guard
- Wear a mouthguard while in sports.
- Visit your dentist regularly and do not miss an appointment with the dentist.